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tv   Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer  Current  October 2, 2012 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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kes on politics. >>science and republicans do not mix. >>now it's your turn at the only online forum with a direct line to eliot spitzer. >>join the debate now. >> eliot: what's at stake for healthcare in tomorrow's debate? i'll be chatting with molly and dave sirota. i'll be debating glenn beck. 10:00 p.m. tonight east coast time mr. beck and i will be arguing the issues of the day here at denver's fillmore auditorium. you don't want to miss this. go to and find out where you can catch our war of the wordsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsdsds
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>> eliot: welcome back to
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denver where we're previewing tomorrow's presidential debate. if romney is the grandfather of obama care and obama the father, then we should get a chance tomorrow to learn just how far the apple actually falls from the tree. here to discuss one of the most intriguing debate topics for tomorrow, healthcare is political correspondent for the atlantic molly ball and dave sirota cohost of the run-down with sirota and brown. molly, let me start with you. it has always struck me as bizarre, almost hypocritical for mitt romney to attack obama care the way he has. he himself mitt romney was in fact the first political voice to say the individual mandate is critical. he got it passed. much to his credit in massachusetts. how can he get away now with it being bad for the nation? >> i'm curious to see what mitt romney says about healthcare in this debate because in the last few weeks we've heard him inching closer to a defense of the mandate and of his own healthcare law which he never
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actually repudiated but which he sort of backed away from during the republican primary and as you recall, it was a big topic in the republican primary debates being attacked from the right. rick santorum was particularly effective at sort of prosecuting that right wing case against the mandate. but now we have romney saying things like the healthcare law that he passed in massachusetts demonstrates his compassion. and the right screams every time he says something like that. but it will be very interesting if he -- to see if he takes the debate as an opportunity to actually make a closer embrace of the healthcare. >> eliot: molly you're exactly right. he was for it before he was against it. dey, he finds behind this faux federalism. a state should pass it not the federal government which misses the question about whether this it is logical as a matter of healthcare policy. how does he square the circle? >> i have no idea. i don't know how he's going to have the debate tomorrow if he goes after quote-unquote obama care. how he doesn't expect barack obama to say how can you criticize me for something that
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was essentially yours? and what specifically is, this is what i think obama will do. what specifically are you offended by? and if romney -- he can't go to the mandate. his polls show when you ask people what do you feel about the overall bill, people say they're kind of half and half on it. when you start rattling off the specifics of the bill, they become very popular. i don't know how mitt romney criticizes the president's healthcare bill and isn't forced into the specifics of it. >> there's one exception of the popularity which is the mandate. it is still unpopular. obama is in a little bit of a bind here as well. you hear obama talking about those popular benefits of the healthcare bill on the stump. you don't hear him talking about the mandate and i wonder if he will want to -- how thoroughly he will want to talk about the healthcare bill given as a whole, it is relatively -- >> eliot: should the president use this opportunity to thank mitt romney for the individual mandate and then defend it and basically say we both came to the same conclusion, this is
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necessary as a matter of conservative market-based ideology, this is how you pay for all of the good things we like and this is how you eliminate freeloaders and basically, look at mitt romney and say i dare you to disagree with me. >> obama has done this before. he has commonly said praise romney for this accomplishment. romney's generally response has been if they were going to base something on my legislation they should have consulted me. here's where i disagree. i do think he'll be ready for that line of attack. >> i don't know what his response to it would be. you're right. it is one thing that is in polls not popular. how does romney criticize obama for the individual mandate. >> eliot: is this symptomatic of the entire romney campaign he's where he's been all over the map ideology. he's lost any potential for clarity and thinking. he's become an empty vessel. the public doesn't know what they're getting and hence nobody can be enthusiastic about him other than for animus for the
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president. >> to defend romney a little bit. he has actually been consistent in saying this was right for massachusetts. it might not be right everywhere. and states have a right to decide what approach to healthcare. >> eliot: you ask every republican -- forget democrat, republican. i've asked anybody logical to answer the question, why is it good for massachusetts but logically not good for the rest of the nation. what i get is -- i don't know. >> i agree with you. >> i think it speaks to the larger issue of mitt romney which is mitt romney should have campaigned as governor of massachusetts mitt romney in the general election. he should have -- and he was expected to pivot to that in the general. and the really -- i think profound political question right now is what are the internal dynamics of the republican party because i don't think it is just mitt romney that made a general election candidate with a record like mitt romney's not embrace his own record. i think that's unprecedented in the sense that we expect general election nominees to tack back to the middle.
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he hasn't and he had a record where he could have. >> eliot: i think he's paying the prying for that. the calculus was this was not a campaign about persuasion. it was about passion and better to dig deeper into the republican party and show the grassroots that they had to get out and vote for the real conservative rather than try to tack to the middle. let's pivot to another issue where mitt romney has been a bit of the etch-a-sketch. immigration. where just today, i think he said he would not go back and what the president is doing with respect to the deferrals on deportation of kids who have been raised here. again, after being harshly conservative now he's coming back to the middle. isn't it too little, too late in terms of the politics of it and changing the image of what he thinks about immigration. >> that's the question about romney. i've been talking to republicans in denver who were perplexed he didn't demonstrate this on immigration and could have safely come out with a more moderate position and therefore
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not alienated all of the hispanic voters. polls showing he gets just over 20% of the hispanic vote which is absolutely dismal. even though turnout is a question. in states like colorado and nevada, that's a big problem to him. >> it speaks to your point. if you're going for a base strategy. you go for a base strategy. if you put it all together, maybe what we're really seeing is through the individual mandate, his comments about that through immigration he's realizing right now throwing a hail mary pass, running the general election campaign he should have run. does he have enough time? that's the question. >> eliot: i think it speaks to a larger issue the issue of character. he's kowtowed at every turn to the far right and the party never once having the backbone to say i simply disagree with you. bill clinton, you remember his famous soldier moment, he looked into the eyes of a core stisht is i i think you're wrong. mitt romney has never done that. the public has a sense of him as weak and you don't elect somebody as president of the united states who is weak. molly ball, political correspondent for the atlantic.
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dave sirota, thank you for your time. >> thank you. >> eliot: what about the unexpected debate wild cards coming up? and a reminder to catch current tv's politically direct presidential debate coverage tomorrow starting at 8:00 p.m. east coast time. i'll be joined by cenk uygur jennifer granholm, al
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>> there you go again. >> i want you to know that also i will not make age an issue of this campaign. i am not going to exploit for
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political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience. [ laughter ] >> i served with jack kennedy. i knew jack kennedy. jack kennedy was a friend of mine. senator, you're no jack kennedy. [ applause ] >> that was really uncalled-for, senator. [ applause ] >> the one making the comparison senator. >> yes how has the national debt personally affected each of your lives? >> practicing fuzzy math again. >> this man has been despair apingaging my math. >> i can't get the man continue with fuzzy math. >> there is an energy bill sponsored by bush and cheney. you know who voted for it? might never know.
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that one. you know who voted against it? me. >> eliot: a few of the unforgettable moments in debate history. some helped the candidate. some hurt the candidate and some had little impact at all. joining me now in denver to discuss the potential game changing moments in tomorrow's debate, wanna summers, national political reporter for politico and seth masket, chair of the university of denver political science department, a colorado state delegate and the author of "no middle ground," a perfect description of our politics these days, unfortunately. they were the memorable moment of 30 years of presidential debate, not one was substantive. it is only the zingers that matter? are we waiting for the one big it moment or is there going to be a philosophical engagement? >> the thing that i've found fascinating, there sure, there are the zingers that folks like you and i sit and talk about that i write about. you ask the 3% to 4% of people,
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they probably can't name more than one maybe two of those. i would not say that we should be looking for some grand philosophic moment. it will probably be something of these kind of theatrics. they're funny but they don't mean anything as far as the issues go. >> eliot: seth, i've been through debates running for office. what the public does get to see is demeanor and maybe what the public sees is how does somebody demonstrate either leadership, character, the sort of capacity to deal with tension. maybe that is more important than the scripted substantive answers. does that make sense? >> there are certain cues that people are looking for in a debate. one is simply how confident does this candidate look? do they seem to believe what they're saying. can they handle criticisms? can they handle questions and can they go further on them? that is actually -- there is actually a fair amount of information behind these little physical cues that actually provide voters with some information they can take with them to the ballot. >> eliot: the jerry ford
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statement was a fundamental statement about global politics and the role of the soviet union and eastern europe at that time. that was an insight into his grasp of where we were at the global level at that moment. but do you think that mitt romney can stand up to barack obama tomorrow? does he have the stature? will he look an equal on the stage tomorrow? >> just by standing next to him he will be able to do that. both of them will look like they belong in the room. they're both very skilled debaters. they're -- neither of them has given particular passionate outbursts. they're both very controlled debaters. it is a switch for romney. during the republican primary debates, he was really the front-runner and everyone was trying to tear him down. he was supposed to stand up to them. here he's coming in as the underdog. he needs to be on the attack. >> eliot: wanna if you needed to say to mitt romney, here is what you must accomplish tomorrow because you are down ten points in the swing states, you only have this one moment to capture the public's excitement and enthusiasm, how does he do
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it? >> first avoid the unforced error. time and time again the albatross of the romney campaign. they're making trouble for themselves where there doesn't need to be any. secondly, you have to keep president obama from getting under your skin. what you saw if you watched mitt romney closely in the debates guys like newt gingrich and rick santorum could really seem to get under his skin, get him a little agitated. you don't want to do that. you want to appear presidential next to a sitting president. he's hugely important tomorrow night. >> eliot: does either one of these guys have a sense of humor? not something i'm going to pretend i could use effectively in a debate. but there's nothing moment than a moment of levity to appear human and to make people like you. can either one of them pull it off? >> possibly but it is difficult. romney has struggled with jokes. he may be -- he may be good outside the political arena but it is hard to convey a sense of humor in these situations. obama has a dry wit but again
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something very hard to communicate in 90 seconds. >> eliot: mitt romney looks awkward whenever he tries to be funny. every evening comedian revels in the mitt romney mockery. it is a little unfair to the guy. i feel for him. anybody who's been in politics feels for the candidate who is being beaten up even though he i make fun of mitt romney whenever i can. you feel for him. what would you say to him? give up on humor? >> it is very hard because mitt romney is crit vised for not being able to be the every man and relate to people on the stump. he's awkward. he tries to make jokes. they fall flats. he says things about trees being the right height. i would steer clear of that. this is one of the few chances in to look at him and see the choice that both campaigns are painting this on. i don't think you make that risk if you're mitt romney. i don't know if you do it. >> eliot: that comment about trees are the right height was one of the best. where does that come from? seth, your book, "no middle ground," is that where we are in our politics. could bill clinton find that
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middle ground? the one president one candidate, the one politician in the last 20 years who had the capacity to lay hands on almost like a priest, minister or rabbi and say come together. could he do it? >> it's interesting with bill clinton. he seems like this great uniter today. of course, when he was president, the opposition party was impeaching him and it was a very vicious time in politics. so when someone is in office and when someone is the president and they're attacking the heat for their decisions yeah, their party will rally around them. the other party will rally to tear the person down. >> eliot: what explains this lack of the middle? >> there has been a natural progression of the parties over the last several decades as the south has moved away from the democratic party and become more republican and more conservative. there is really no moderate republicans or moderate democrats left. >> eliot: juana my notion is we're playing negative politics. when we had a growing budget and the capacity to give financially to more folks politics was angry sometimes but at least
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everybody walked away happy. they were shrinking the budget. that's the most difficult thing in any political office. that's what has led to an additional degree of venom in our politics. >> the other point as well, we lack moderates in congress. every time you look at the elections, anyone who goes away from the very extremes of the party, anyone who dares to compromise is getting out. they're losing their office. that's making our political climate more toxic than ever leading to a congress that doesn't get anything done. >> eliot: congress is as dysfunctional as i can recall ever reading about in history books. is there also -- root of the philosophical debate. the root of government. do we believe libertarian perspective, we want government out. whatever the arguments may be versus a vision of a government that intercedes. is there a philosophical debate going on? we don't phrase it that way in politics but is that underlying this? >> yes. the divisions between the parties, it is not just personal. these are very real philosophical differences between the parties. people criticize republicans for not collaborating with obama.
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their supporters don't want them to collaborate. >> eliot: here is an idea. if there is really a philosophical debate, maybe it is a good thing we're split. maybe that's what politics and democracy is all about. if we get a good articulation of it we'll get resolution. juana summers for politico. seth masket, chair of the political science department. thank you both for your time tonight. the candidates are working on one more thing. possibly their most important goal. not to look unpleasant. that's coming up. after the show, glenn beck and i will be having our war of the words here in the fillmore auditorium in denver at 10:00 p.m. eastern standard time. check out facebook our conversation is with you the viewer because we're independent. >>here's how you can connect with "viewpoint with eliot spitzer." >>questions, of course, need to be answered. >>we will not settle for the easy answers. septic disasters are disgusting and costly, but avoidable. the rid-x
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health worst debate trap of all to lose control. that's ahead. but first let's check in with jennifer granholm "the war room." good evening governor. what have you got for us tonight? >> jennifer: thanks, eliot. as you know, an important ruling out of a court in pennsylvania on voter i.d. laws so we're going to talk voter i.d. in pennsylvania and early voting in ohio. the president's got a sizable lead among women in the polls. i want to discuss the most important issues facing women in this election with none other than feminist trailblazer gloria steinem. those stories and a lot more in "the war room." it all starts at 10:00 p.m. eastern. going to be a great great show. go tigers! oh i forgot, you like the yankees. oh well. >> eliot: of course i love the yankees. in the bronx everybody roots for the yankees. sounds great (vo) what is said here could decide the election. current tv presents coverage of the presidential debate. with
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commentary. >> you're going to hear that used as a major talking point. (vo) the only network with real-time reaction straight from the campaigns and from viewers like you. >>now that's politically direct.
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>> eliot: welcome back to denver. one could argue that both candidates have been preparing for this moment for years. but all of that practice may not matter if the candidates lose control of their emotions and their messages. current tv correspondent david shuster joins me with news on the preparation front from both campaigns. david, thanks for coming back later in the show. >> of course. >> eliot: what do you hear from the campaigns? what are they bracing for? are they ready for the zingers? are they saying hold your own and play defense? >> they both recognize both candidates, they know the
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issues. there is a lot of content. they're versatile in talking about the content. the thing that both campaigns are worried about and we were just talking about this a second ago. on television, 70% of the impact on the people out there watching is right here. it has nothing to do with what you say even how you say it. there are fears in the obama campaign that because of the personal disdain that he has for mitt romney and how mitt romney has handled about the campaign, they're worried about the president snarling or being angry. they're trying to get him to say look, you know the material. if you're going to attack him do it be a smile and a glimmer in your eye and you'll be fine. >> eliot: then senator obama's toughest moment in his run for the nomination was when he turned to hillary clinton and said you're likable enough. there was an edge to it. people pulled back and said are we seeing a different side of no drama obama than we actually appreciate. >> yeah. i think for the romney campaign because mitt romney had all of the practice -- not only four years ago but also the run-up in the primaries romney has a pretty good poker face.
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this is a guy who can look at you and he won't give anything away. that may be something of an advantage for mitt romney in terms of the emotional. he has an ability to smile a little bit and chuckle. at least as far as the atmospherics, there is a lot of focus today on that. not so much on the content. >> eliot: you were saying earlier, i don't want to spill any beans that the obama camp fears the president has actual disdain for mitt romney. that the president looks at mitt romney and for whatever reason says you should know better. you should not be saying these things because you're smart enough to appreciate that they're wrong. that's a hard emotion to cabin inside one self when mitt romney refuses to budge. so that could evoke from the president's sort of a show of emotion that isn't favorable. >> that's a great concern. especially -- romney's tone of voice but when mitt romney takes a position different from what he took a couple of months ago. he said something that contradicts -- so there is an effort by the obama campaign to say look, you've been working on the issues for four years.
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you know them inside and out. you know debates. focus on trying to have a good time. enjoy yourself. both campaigns are suggesting they think that the first debate may be not so -- it may be like john mccain and barack obama four years ago. the first debate was the first letdown. a lot of wonkiness. they didn't go after each other very hard. they were a little bit nervous in feeling each other out. >> eliot: the notion they would enjoy it, i can tell you i've been through debates nothing on term with that, you don't enjoy it. there are butterflies in your stomach when you walk out there. you know the campaign potentially rests on every utterance you make. there is the his tansey -- hesitancy no matter how skilled you may be, there is a hesitancy and a fear. that's unavoidable. >> how do you deal with glenn beck who is a master of television regardless of what people may think about him. they're using a nice picture of you grimacing. glenn beck has the smile and you don't. >> eliot: i'm trying to scare him. getting prefight cut to look
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bloodied and beaten up even before we start. it will be fun. in a way this emotionally is similar to what people go through in a debate. you want to make your points. glenn beck and i disagree as fundamentally as two people could. you have to do it with a smile or grace or else the public will not come into your corner. >> one that that will be different from this debate from the one with glen, there is a lot righting -- riding on jim lehrer. each segment is 15 minutes long. he asks a question and they each get two minutes to respond. for the next 11 minutes, they can talk to each other. jim lehrer can stay out of it. there could be a lot of interaction there. >> eliot: debates are at their best when they come closest to what is cross-examination in a courtroom. i speaks a lawyer, prosecutor, i suppose. but i have enormous respect for that capacity of an advocate who disagrees with a proposition to ask the hard questions and elicit the truth. i think -- mitt romney must be worried about that. if jim lehrer decides to drill
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down on what by mitt romney's own characterization is an etch-a-sketch campaign, they could breed significant problems for him. >> it is not an easy job moderating debates under that format. interesting to see. they could talk about immigration because of the border agent shot today. there are a lot of different things that both candidates have to prepare for. >> eliot: one thing i would say is these are two unbelievably smart individuals. as you said, they both know the substantive areas they will be discussing. i think emotion will be more important than the substantive content. david, thank you. >> good luck. >> eliot: i'll see you. i might need you in my corner. that's "viewpoint" for tonight. in one hour, it is the war of the words. i'll be debating glenn beck here in denver. get the details on facebook i'll see you tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. for our coverage of the presidential
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